It's that time again: time to get the Christmas decorations out of the cupboard or down from the loft. If like me you've invested in smart home tech such as smart lighting, there's only one thing you'll want to know: how do I add my Christmas tree lights to my smart home?
This isn't just a tech for the sake of it thing. Adding your festive flickerers to the rest of your smart home opens up some useful possibilities that go beyond switching them on and off without getting up from the sofa. It means you can schedule them, or use geofencing so they go off when you go out and come on to welcome you home. And if you want to get really fancy you can make them part of whole-room light scenes too.
The best way to add a self-lit Christmas tree
This works with fairy lights of any kind too. If you want to connect existing lights to your smart home, all you need to do is stick the light or tree's power supply onto a smart plug. Alexa ones are usually the cheapest and Apple HomeKit are usually the most expensive, but if you were put off by the high prices last year you'll be relieved by how much more affordable smart plugs have become. I've previously used Tado and Meross plugs, the HomeKit versions of which are currently around £15. Smart plugs for other smart home platforms are cheaper still.
The best way to put smart lighting on your Christmas tree
This isn't exactly a cheap option, but if you've got a Philips Hue setup then the new Festavia string lights are brilliant. You get 20 metres and 250 colour-changing mini-LED bulbs with all the colour changing, Spotify syncing, smart speaker-supporting goodness of any other Hue kit.
There are two downsides. The first is that they're $159 in the US and £139 in the UK. And the second is that they're selling out as quickly as Signify, Hue's parent, can make them.
Thankfully there are some alternatives out there, including the well reviewed Twinkly Generation 2. HomeKit users are out of luck but the Twinkly lights work with Alexa and Google Home, and once again they're 20m with 250 colour changing LEDs. They're marginally cheaper than the Hues, and they're also in stock on retailers such as Amazon (opens in new tab).